Hit By a Drunk Driver in Texas: Do I Need a DWI Lawyer?
If you have been hit by a drunk driver in Texas, you do not need to rely on criminal laws alone for justice. A criminal conviction for DWI rarely results in financial relief for the victims. Even when restitution is awarded, it is rarely enough to cover the medical bills the victim has accumulated.
Fortunately, Texas law does allow victims to pursue fair compensation for injuries, bills, and other damages suffered as a result of drunk driving crashes through civil lawsuits. When you call a DWI lawyer, you are taking the first steps towards protecting your rights as a drunk driving victim. You are also putting yourself in the best position to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Drunk Driving Accident Liability in Texas
As with all car accidents, victims of DWI and DUI crashes have the ability to sue the driver, the driver’s insurance company, and even the bar, business, or restaurant that served the driver alcohol. To do this, the victim must demonstrate the person or entity they are suing was liable for the crash and the victim’s injuries.
Liability will depend on the unique circumstances of your drunk driving crash. It is also important to remember that, in Texas, more than one person or party can be held liable for your injuries if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver. Examples of liability that may apply to your DWI crash include:
- Driving While Intoxicated: Texas law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. There is also a “zero tolerance” rule for drivers under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with any detective amount of alcohol.
- Dram Shop Liability: If a bar, restaurant, or business overserved the driver that caused your accident, you may be able to pursue action against them under Texas’s Dram Shop Liability laws. Dram Shop Liability also applies to private individuals who overserve adults or provide alcohol to minors.
- Road Hazards: If it is determined road hazards or poor road conditions contributed to your DWI crash or increased its severity, you could sue the Texas government or the government city where your crash occurred.
Can I Still Sue if the Drunk Driver Is Not Convicted?
Typically, if police have probable cause, the drunk driver responsible for your crash will be arrested at the scene. However, prosecutors may still decide not to pursue a criminal case or they may fail to obtain a conviction.
While a conviction could benefit your drunk driving lawsuit, there is no rule requiring a drunk driver to be convicted in order for you to sue them. Further, an acquittal for DWI in Texas does not mean the drunk driver is innocent.
One of the foundations of our criminal justice system is the high burden of proof faced by prosecutors. In a drunk driving accident, the state must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the driver was impaired and caused the crash. In a civil case, the burden of proof is significantly less stringent.
If you choose to sue the drunk driver responsible for your crash, you must only prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means you need to show that the drunk driver was more likely than not to have caused your crash and injuries.
So, while the evidence gathered following your crash may not have been enough to obtain a criminal conviction for DWI in Texas, it could still be enough to prove your civil lawsuit.
What Kind of Damages Can I Pursue?
Texas law allows drunk driving victims to recover a wide range of damages. This includes fair compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, future expenses, lost wages, emotional suffering, and other physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.
Among the damages most often sought by our Texas drunk driving accident attorneys are:
- Medical Expenses: Drunk driving victims often face multiple medical bills. These include ambulance rides, visits to the doctor, prescription drugs, surgery, and physical therapy. You can also seek expenses for future treatment and therapy in your lawsuit.
- Lost Wages: If you missed work after you were hit by a drunk driver, you deserve to be compensated for the resulting financial loss. You can also sue for other adverse impacts the accident had on your wages, such as you being passed over for a promotion, as well as vacation or paid time off you used to recover from your injuries or visit the doctor.
- Pain and Suffering: It is reasonable that a victim of a drunk driving crash will suffer emotional and mental trauma. Texas law allows you to seek a number of damages related to pain and suffering, including loss of consortium and emotional anguish. Because these do not have a specific dollar amount tied to them, you will need to work with an attorney to prove value.
- Punitive Damages: You may even be able to obtain punitive damages. These are extra damages awarded in addition to your compensatory damages for the purpose of penalizing the drunk driver.
I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver in Texas, What Do I Do Now?
After reporting your crash to the authorities and seeking medical attention for your injuries, the best thing you can do after a DWI in Texas is to call an attorney. You have rights as an injured victim. A Texas drunk driving accident lawyer can help you protect those rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Thomas J. Henry Law has represented victims of drunk driving crashes for nearly 30 years. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a drunk driver, call our offices for a FREE Case Review. Our Dallas car accident lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to assist you.